Jones helps Little League team reach tournament

When a Washington, D.C., Little League team reached out for help to fund a trip to an upcoming tournament, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was ready with a response — and a check.

Jones agreed Friday to contribute $8,500 toward bus transportation for the Mamie Johnson Little League team, which will represent the nation’s capital in the Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament starting Sunday in Bristol, Connecticut.

“It’s a blessing for the kids and the families,” Keith Barnes, the league president, told ESPN. “For them to experience this opportunity and for him to help us, it just means the world to these kids. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, so it’s a great gesture. And we really appreciate it.”

The Mamie Johnson team is the first predominantly black squad to advance to the Mid-Atlantic Regional — the final obstacle to a spot in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Of the 12 players on the roster, 11 are African-American.

Jones became aware of the team’s achievement and its financial plight earlier this week via a Tweet from Delia Goncalves, a reporter for WUSA-TV in Washington. His reply on Twitter: “Amazing. How can I help.”

In a subsequent FaceTime call with Goncalves during an Orioles team flight to Texas, Jones said, “I want to see the next generation get an opportunity to succeed. Me being a black man trying to integrate more African-Americans into baseball, this was a no-brainer.”

Jones’ representatives at CAA Sports were in contact with Little League officials and finalized the details Friday. Barnes said the team had already received $15,000 in contributions before Jones became involved. Some of the funds were contributed by competing Little Leagues in the area. He said the surplus created by Jones’ contribution will go toward enhancing future participation. The Mamie Johnson Little League players come from less-than-affluent circumstances, Barnes said, and the league charges only $20 to players’ families as an initiation fee.

Jones, 33, has a long record of community outreach during his tenure with the Orioles. In 2015, he received the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award from the MLB Players Association, the Brooks Robinson Community Service Award from the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and the Governor’s Service Award from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

When Jones signed a six-year, $85.5 million extension with the Orioles in 2012, he earmarked $75,000 annually for the local Boys & Girls Clubs.

Barnes said the Mamie Johnson Little League players plan to go to Baltimore at some point this season to meet Jones, who remained with the Orioles through the recent trade deadline even as Manny Machado, Zach Britton and several other prominent teammates moved on to other clubs.

Are many of the players on the Mamie Johnson roster Adam Jones fans?

“They will be, yes,” Barnes said, laughing.

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